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Remembering George Harrison

November 29th marks the 13th anniversary of the death of George Harrison.  Harrison, one of the Fab Four, is a music and pop icon. He once said he didn’t want to be an icon, but it was a little late for that.  He was as happy planting a tree in his garden as he was recording a song.  To some degree George Harrison was in the background when he was a Beatle, overshadowed by the songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney.  But it was George Harrison who gave us some of the most beautiful and memorable songs.  Even Frank Sinatra said “Something” was one of his favorite love songs. 

George Harrison was the first of the Fab Four to record a solo album after their breakup. He went on to a successful music career post Beatles.  But he will always be remembered as a Beatle.  The Beatles were too important to the history of this generation and to music itself, and there is no way to separate any of the four from the group, no matter how much success they accomplish on their own. 

The Beatles construe an aura of magic.  There is something mystical associated with them.  Perhaps it is because they were merchandised from here to Timbuktu, or their music will remain in our souls forever, or they were just the right group at the right time.

Several years ago I had a meeting in Hollywood. I walked into the building and everyone was whispering. “Psst. Ringo.”  “Hey, did you hear? Ringo Starr is in the building.” “Hey, Psst.”  For some reason, just the presence of Ringo stirred up a lot of fascination.  I’m sure it would have been the same if it had been any of the other Beatles.  I’m not one to get excited by celebrity.  I heard Ringo was in the building and I didn’t really think much about it.  When I exited the building, Ringo happened to be standing right there outside the door.  I smiled, walked past him, and got into my car.  He got into his limousine and we both drove down the street, side by side.

Then, one day at a Television Critics Association Press Tour, Paul McCartney appeared via satellite to talk about his latest project. Honestly, I was charmed by this man. He was funny and intelligent and a delight to “speak” to. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet George Harrison.

There was an enchantment to the Beatles.  While many people were not pleased with some of the things they said and did, when you separate that from the music and the accomplishments they made, they still belong to history and will always hold a high place in the hearts and minds of a generation who went through a lot together. Their music continues to find audiences in subsequent generations. That it the measure of greatness. 

Even though George Harrison was and will always be a Beatle, he was a man in his own right. He was a wonderful musician and songwriter, husband, father, and a humanitarian. He had a great sense of humor and a sense of purpose.

We’ll all remember George Harrison for Something.  Something in the way he smiled. Something in the way he spoke. Something in the way he sang. And Something in the way he lived.